Fox squirrel photo by Sherry Stimpson Frost
By Phil Miller, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Squirrels are one of the more common and recognized species of wildlife in the Southeast. They readily inhabit backyards and other urban areas and have adapted well to human development. What is not as well known is that there are three species of squirrels in Alabama.
Gray Squirrel—The gray squirrel is the most common of the three species found in Alabama. Weighing approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds at adult age, it is a medium-sized squirrel covered with gray hairs that are white at the tips. Its back and neck is a darker gray with a white or lighter gray along the belly and the tail is long, flat and bushy.
The gray squirrel is found in deciduous forests of oak and hickory, which is typically mixed with pines and other hardwoods. They commonly eat a variety of mast such as acorns, hickory nuts, seeds and fruits and are known to raid gardens of green tomatoes and other vegetables.
Gray squirrels spend most of their time in the treetops unless gathering food or engaging in mating chases. This squirrel is common to parks and suburban yards. They are more active during early morning and late afternoon when in search of food.